Today I have another fantastic author interview for all of my fellow bookaholics out there. I’ve been quizzing the lovely Krysten Lindsay Hager, whose debut YA novel True Colours was released on 16th June 2014. (If you’re still to get your copy you can do so here … and check out the rave reviews over on Amazon.com!) I’ve been asking Krysten about what it’s like to write YA, which books she likes reading and what advice she would give to her teenage self…
Hi Krysten, welcome to Bookaholic Confessions! Thank you so much for participating in this interview. Would you like to start by introducing yourself…?
I’m a book addict and writer. I write YA, middle grade, and women’s fiction. I have worked as a journalist and I love writing comedy essays, too.
Can you tell us a bit about your YA debut novel, True Colours? (released 16th June 2014)
It’s about Landry Albright who just wants to be one of the interesting girls at school who always have exciting things going on in their lives. She wants to stand out, but also wants to fit in, so she gives in when her two best friends, Ericka and Tori, push her into trying out for a teen reality show modeling competition with them. Landry goes in nervous, but impresses the judges enough to make it to the next round. However, Ericka and Tori get cut and basically “unfriend” her on Monday at school. Landry tries to make new friends, but gets caught up between wanting to be herself and conforming to who her new friends want her to be. Along the way she learns that modeling is nowhere as glamorous as it seems, how to deal with frenemies, a new crush, and that true friends see you for who you really are and like you because of it.
How did you find writing a book in the YA category? Do you prefer writing YA to Adult Fiction?
I have always been a big YA fan and was a big reader when I was in grade school. I always imagined writing my own teen fiction novel. I do write adult fiction, too, and I just enjoy a good story no matter what the intended age group.
Is the lead character in True Colours, Landry Albright based on anyone you know? Are there elements of yourself in Landry from when you were her age?
She’s not based on anyone, but I’ve had friends say, “Oh I hear your sense of humor when I read it.” Landry and I both hate math, both do that overthinking thing (seriously, I cannot turn my brain off at night), and are loyal to the people we are close to. And I *may* have had a few soap star crushes like she has…
Would you say there’s an underlying message in True Colours?
I think recognizing what true friendship is all about and what it means to be a real friend. I think it’s a message that hits everyone no matter what your age or background is—everyone deals with this at some point in their lives. I’ve been lucky to have some great friends, but I have also had some less than true ones that have hurt me. I truly believe you can learn from everything and those bad relationships did help me to be a stronger person and better friend. There’s also that theme about being yourself and being your BEST self. Landry doesn’t always appreciate the things that make her unique—like her hair color. She says she’d prefer Devon’s curly, dark hair or Peyton’s thick, dark red hair. She thinks they must be secure because they look a certain way only to find out, they always wanted to look more like her. It just shows we always think the grass is greener on the other side.
If you could give your teenage self one piece of advice, what would it be?
I love this question and I so wish I could go back and time and do this! I’d tell her not to worry so much about what other people will say if she tries something new. There are so many times when I held back because of worrying about that and in the end I’ve learned if people want to talk about you, they will, so you might as well do what you to want anyway. I should probably take that advice now, too, shouldn’t I?
What’s your take on the view that adults shouldn’t read YA novels?
I think a good story is a good story and I personally don’t care if the main characters are 12, 20, or 112. I just want to read a good book.
Can you tell us a bit about your journey to publication?
I started writing as a kid and early on teachers took notice of my interest and in college I got a lot of encouragement. I remember my science professor in college, Dr. Repic, talking in class about a column I wrote for the university newspaper. I couldn’t believe that a science prof would take time to not only read my work, but encourage me. I had a lot of support from my school and I took creative writing and literature classes, too. I went to a lot of conferences, workshops, and critique groups to really learn the craft, too. I think working in journalism prepared me for rejection and public reaction.
Who are your favourite authors and what type of books do you enjoy reading?
A few of my favorites are: F. Scott Fitzgerald, Susan Shapiro, Cathy Cassidy, Slavenka Drakulic, and Sylvia Plath to name a few. I like books with humor or with a really sensitive, vulnerable side to them. “The Great Gatsby” is a favorite, but I really enjoy Fitzgerald’s essays for their humor and vulnerability.
And finally – Can you tell us a bit about what you’re working on at the moment? What’s next for you?
I’m working on a sequel to TRUE COLORS that picks up right where the last book left off. I hate when you start a sequel and there are major scenes that happened in between books that the writer doesn’t share. I also have another YA/MG novel and an adult humor novel I’m working on.
Thank you so much for participating in the interview, Krysten. It’s great to have you on the site!